Whether you are a beginner that is just starting his weight loss journey, an advanced trainee or even a professional bodybuilder, knowing your body composition is highly important. Body composition includes the measurement of body fat, muscle tissue, bone mass and water. Knowing all of this information can help you to keep accurate track of your progress and be able to set realistic goals. If your dream is to have abs like that professional bodybuilder who is under 6% body-fat and you are an over-weight guy starting at 30%, then you must be aware that your goal is unrealistic on the short term and it will take many years of hard work and dedication to achieve it.
There are many ways to measure your body fat percentage, some being more accurate while others having a wider range of error. In this article we'll discuss the most accurate ones and we'll take a look at both the pros and cons of each one:
1. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
This is by far the most wide spread method of all and it's accessible to millions of people who own a BIA scale analyzer. There are many types of devices but they all work the same way: they send tiny electrical impulses through your body and measure how fast they return. Depending on the type of tissue they travel through (fat, muscle, bones or water) the device will then determine the percentage for each one.
Pros: One of the benefits of BIA scales is that they are quite cheap and easily available in super-markets and online stores. They are also very easy to use and a person doesn't need any knowledge or experience. After pressing a few buttons, the measurement takes only a few seconds.
Cons: Even though it's such a simple and affordable method, it's not very accurate. Readings can be easily affected by your level of hydration (being hydrated will give better results), by meals (a recent meal may affect results), as well as by a workout (measuring right after a workout might also give better results regarding body fat). So in order to get the most accurate results with BIA devices, make sure to measure yourself under the same conditions (same time of the day, with the same level of hydration and with the same amount time after a meal and a workout).
2. Skin Calipers